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"Break up" is an intransitive verb phrase which is often translated as "separarse", and "break down" is an intransitive verb phrase which is often translated as "estropearse". Learn more about the difference between "break up" and "break down" below.
break up(
breyk
 
uhp
)
An intransitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and does not require a direct object (e.g. Everybody please stand up.).
intransitive verb phrase
1. (to dissolve a relationship)
a. separarse
Breaking up is never easy, whether in romance or business.Separarse nunca es sencillo, ya sea en el amor o en los negocios.
2. (to split up; often used with "with")
a. romper
He didn't eat for weeks after he broke up with his girlfriend.No comió por semanas después de romper con su novia.
b. terminar
He was so cowardly that he used a text message to break up with his girlfriend.Fue tan cobarde que usó un mensaje de texto para terminar con su novia.
c. cortar
Do you know why they broke up?¿Sabes por qué cortaron?
3. (to disintegrate)
a. desintegrarse
The heavy rains caused the rocks in the quarry to break up into sediment.Las fuertes lluvias hicieron que las piedras de la cantera se desintegraran hasta convertirse en sedimento.
b. deshacerse
If you add some water to the gravy and whisk vigorously, the lumps will break up.Si añades un poco de agua al jugo de carne y bates enérgicamente, los grumos se desharán.
4. (education) (United Kingdom)
a. terminar
After our final exams, school will break up.Después de nuestros exámenes finales, la escuela terminará.
b. empezar las vacaciones
Do you break up this week or next week?¿Empiezas las vacaciones esta semana o la semana que viene?
5. (to laugh uncontrollably)
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
a. reírse a carcajadas
This comedian is great. He gets the crowd to break up every time.Este comediante es excelente. Hace que el público se ría a carcajadas.
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
6. (to cause to separate)
a. dispersar
The police officers broke up the crowd that had gathered in the business district.Los policías dispersaron a la muchedumbre que se había reunido en el distrito comercial.
b. poner fin a
The two teachers broke up the fight in the hallway.Los dos maestros pusieron fin a la pelea que había en el pasillo.
c. desarticular
The primary aim of our police force has been to break up the street gangs that terrorize our city.El objetivo principal de nuestro cuerpo de policía es desarticular las bandas callejeras que aterrorizan nuestra ciudad.
d. dividir
Don't listen to their rumors. They just want to break up our group.No hagas caso a sus rumores. Solo quieren dividir a nuestro grupo.
7. (to separate into pieces)
a. desguazar
The crew broke up the ships to salvage metal that the airplane factory could use.La tripulación desguazó los barcos para reciclar el metal que la fábrica de aviones podría usar.
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break down(
breyk
 
daun
)
An intransitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and does not require a direct object (e.g. Everybody please stand up.).
intransitive verb phrase
1. (to stop functioning)
a. estropearse
The hot water heater broke down last night while I was in the shower.Anoche, se estropeó la caldera mientras estaba en la ducha.
b. averiarse
My car broke down in the middle of nowhere, so I had to hitchhike.Se averió el auto en el medio de la nada, así que tuve que hacer dedo.
c. descomponerse
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
The car broke down because the radiator overheated.El carro se descompuso porque el radiador se recalentó.
2. (to succumb to emotional stress)
a. derrumbarse
After working sleeplessly for weeks, he broke down and started screaming at his boss.Después de trabajar sin dormir durante semanas, se derrumbó y empezó a gritarle a su jefe.
b. echarse a llorar
When he realized she had gone for good, he broke down.Cuando se dio cuenta de que ella se había ido para siempre, se echó a llorar.
c. romper a llorar
I can't watch "Bambi" without breaking down.No puedo ver "Bambi" sin romper a llorar.
3. (to fail)
a. fracasar (negotiations)
Talks between the two countries broke down after the attack.Las negociaciones entre los dos países fracasaron tras el atentado.
4. (to divide into constituents)
a. descomponerse
As citric acid breaks down, what substance is released?¿Qué sustancia se libera al descomponerse el ácido cítrico?
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
5. (to destroy)
a. derribar
The detective obtained a warrant and went to break down the door of the suspect.El detective obtuvo una orden de detención y se dirigió a derribar la puerta del sospechoso.
b. echar abajo
They began to break down the Berlin Wall in 1990.Empezaron a echar abajo el Muro de Berlín en 1990.
6. (to separate)
a. dividir
It's easier if we break the work down into stages.Es más fácil si dividimos el trabajo en etapas.
7.
A phrase used as a figure of speech or a word that is symbolic in meaning; metaphorical (e.g. carrot, bean).
(figurative)
(to overcome)
a. vencer (resistance)
How can we break down people's resistance to change?¿Cómo podemos vencer la resistencia de la gente al cambio?
8. (to analyze)
a. desglosar (figures)
I can break down the charges on your bill so it's easier to understand.Puedo desglosar los cargos de la factura para que sea más fácil de entender.
b. descomponer
It can be difficult to break down a complicated sentence.Puede ser difícil descomponer una oración complicada.
9. (to decompose)
a. descomponer
In a hydrolysis reaction, water is used to break down a molecule.En una reacción de hidrólisis, se emplea agua para descomponer una molécula.
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